The Best Free University and College Courses for Teachers

The Best Free University and College Courses for Teachers

The Best Free University and College Courses for Teachers

Teaching is a time-consuming and challenging profession. As a teacher, it can be tough to find time to reflect on your practice and invest in upskilling around classroom demands.

But, professional development is essential to any teacher’s career progression, and without pushing yourself to learn, your teaching career is likely to stagnate.

Online teaching courses offer an affordable and flexible way to keep your teaching skills up to date, and begin to explore specialisms and new career directions.

With a huge increase in online learning courses for teachers, it is possible to improve your teaching skills, learn new theories of pedagogy, and fill in your skills or knowledge gaps from home at times that fit around classroom hours and demands, for example, in school breaks or on weekends.

Often, the professional development opportunities offered through schools may not be relevant to your specific needs or interests as a teacher.

By choosing a variety of online teaching courses, you can access information that can directly benefit your teaching career.

This can help you to make a greater impact on the specific young people you work with or reach the next level by specializing in things like:

  • Leadership
  • Pastoral care
  • Special educational needs

Perhaps best of all, many courses accredited by some of the world's most highly recognized universities and teaching schools can be accessed for free.

If you do want to gain a certificate, these are often available at a low cost.

Online teaching courses are much cheaper than choosing to take a master’s course, for example.

Choosing to study in your own time shows tenacity and a genuine commitment and interest in education.

If you want to progress fast in your teaching career, being able to demonstrate your specific interests on your teacher resume will become more and more essential as you progress through your career.

Who Might Benefit From Taking a Free Online Teaching Course?

Free courses don’t give you a certificate, but there are still plenty of good reasons to invest some time into them.

Graduates considering a career in teaching can take free online teaching courses to explore whether a career in education is right for them.

Having a good grasp of teaching jargon ahead of applying for teacher training is very useful, and will show, if you do decide to apply and interview for teacher training, that you are serious about entering the profession.

Teachers who are looking to study for a master’s degree may wish to use free online courses to evaluate which colleges or universities are right for them.

As online courses are often led through video lectures by working university professors, it is possible to get a sense of whether a particular university will be suitable for your interests and skills development.

Teachers with specific professional development demands that are not being met by their schools can choose to take free courses to pick up skills and knowledge that they can apply quickly to the classroom.

For example, a teacher might have a child with ASD in their class but have no experience of working with SEN children. A free online teaching course on autism spectrum disorder could help a teacher gain skills to support their practice straight away.

Following the pandemic, most teachers have come face-to-face with blended learning and using technology to facilitate learning in the classroom.

There are plenty of free online courses to support teachers in making effective use of technology in the classroom, and continuing what they have learned through teaching online to make an impact as they return to the classroom.

Recently, fully online schools have begun to open up.

For teachers looking for remote working opportunities, understanding the implications of educational technology and online learning will be essential.

What Should You Expect to Learn on a Free Teaching Course?

Different free online teaching courses offer different types of learning, with varied outcomes.

Some are relatively theoretical, offering you a chance to reflect on concepts and ideas that are driving change in education.

Some courses focus on teaching practice and techniques for ensuring learning takes place. Others, especially those around technology and learning, are more practical and result in a project.

For secondary or high school teachers, there are also courses for increasing subject knowledge.

Many courses integrate peer feedback with video lectures and reading tasks, so it is possible to connect with other teachers who have similar interests and continue your learning through conversation.

With the expanding availability of online learning courses for teachers, it is possible to gain the specific knowledge, skill and theory that you will need to demonstrate on your teacher resume as you move through your career.

How to Improve Your Teaching Skills Alongside Your Course

Sharing your knowledge and ideas through conversation is a fantastic way to embed and expand on what you are learning.

Meeting with other teachers and sharing ideas and practice is a great way to keep your excitement for teaching alive and add to your learning.

Putting new skills and information into practice straight away is the best way to integrate and retain what you are learning.

Taking notes during the course and carrying them with you to work to remind you while you teach is one way to do this. You could also carve out a little extra time for planning lessons to incorporate new techniques alongside making space for learning.

You can be open with your students about your learning journey, and ask them for feedback on new things you are trying out with them.

Teaching is a practice, so journaling or finding a way to track your own progress is a great way to ensure your skills are improving.

You can also have conversations with your superiors, and share your goals and ideas with them to get up-to-date feedback on your teaching skills.

They’ll be pleased to see you taking responsibility for your professional development as a teacher.

Why Take an Online Teaching Course?
Why Take an Online Teaching Course?

The 10 Best Free University and College Courses for Teachers

1. Preparing for Teaching – Manchester Metropolitan University

Cost: Free, £42 for a certificate

Manchester Metropolitan University offers a short three-week course for anyone considering a career in teaching.

It is a light course that touches on all areas of teaching practice and encourages reflection on your own experience of education.

It is self-paced so it can be completed on any time schedule.

As with all courses on FutureLearn, you can purchase a certificate at the end of the course for £42, but for a subscription for a year, you can access and get certificates for unlimited courses.

Visit Preparing for Teaching – Manchester Metropolitan University

2. Get Interactive: Practical Teaching with Technology – University of London

Cost: Free, £35 for certificate

This course is designed to help teachers make the most of technology to create online courses for students, which is an essential skill in all teaching professions as schools move towards blended learning.

The course takes 15 hours spread over three weeks, and ends with a project.

It is 100% online, and has a flexible deadline in case five hours of study per week is too much to fit around your teaching schedule.

As with FutureLearn courses, a membership to Coursera guarantees you a certificate upon completion of the course, as well as unlimited access to other courses on the platform.

Visit Get Interactive: Practical Teaching with Technology – University of London

3. What Future for Education? – University of London

Cost: Free, £35 for certificate

The Institute of Education at the University of London is a global leader in education innovation.

This course is a more theoretical course for teachers wishing to carve out space to reflect on their own teaching practice and ideas around learning and schools.

The outcome of the course is a piece of critical writing in response to a question. The course takes 14 hours to complete with a fully flexible deadline.

A certificate is available on completion for £35.

Visit What Future for Education? – University of London

4. Supporting Children With Difficulties in Reading and Writing – University of London

Cost: Free, £35 for certificate

All teachers will meet and work with students with dyslexia, dyspraxia and other special educational needs in their careers.

However, good training on how to offer support to these children isn’t often delivered by schools.

This UoL course will equip teachers with practical strategies for supporting dyslexic children in the classroom, and draws on science and research to help teachers understand why reading and writing can be more challenging for some students than others.

A certificate is available on completion for £35, or with a Coursera membership.

The course takes approximately 17 hours to complete with a flexible deadline.

Visit Supporting Children With Difficulties in Reading and Writing – University of London

5. Supporting Adolescent Learners: Social and Emotional Wellbeing – Griffith University

Cost: Free, £42 for a certificate

This course addresses the impact of social and emotional wellbeing on teenagers' capacity for learning.

Any teacher who works with young adult students will come up against struggles with social and emotional development.

This course helps teachers better understand how to shift teenage mindsets to create a better learning approach for life, drawing on neuroscience and its impact on our understanding of adolescent development.

The course takes approximately three hours per week for two weeks. It is 100% online and can be completed at your own pace.

As with other FutureLearn courses, a certificate is available for a small fee, but you can also subscribe to FutureLearn for unlimited access to all courses with accredited certificates.

Visit Supporting Adolescent Learners: Social and Emotional Wellbeing – Griffith University

6. Good Practice in Autism Education – University of Bath

Cost: Free, £42 for a certificate

All teachers will come across students with autism in their career.

Neurodiversity is prevalent, around 1 in 60 children are thought to be on the spectrum, so learning strategies for inclusive practice is essential for the success of any classroom teacher.

This course supports you to develop an understanding of autism, from its causes to the ways it can be diagnosed, as well as develop practical skills for creating an inclusive curriculum for autistic children.

The course takes four hours a week over three weeks. As with other courses on FutureLearn, an accredited certificate costs £42, or is included with an annual subscription to all FutureLearn courses.

Visit Good Practice in Autism Education – University of Bath

7. Virtual Teacher Specialization – University of California, Irvine

Cost: Free, £35 for certificate

This is one of the few online teacher courses where the majority of participants say they started a new career as a result of completing it.

There are now opportunities for teachers to work at fully virtual, remote schools, and integrated blended learning solutions are becoming more and more prevalent in virtual environments.

This course is ideal for any teacher wishing to develop their online teaching practice and ensure the resources and activities they create in a digital environment have an impact.

The course covers all aspects of virtual teaching, even going as far as to touch on creating a virtual learning community.

This is a longer course than the others we looked at, taking approximately seven months to complete while working for two hours a week. But the course can be taken flexibly.

The course is free, but to acquire a certificate and an accreditation costs £35.

Visit Virtual Teacher Specialization – University of California, Irvine

8. Supporting Successful Learning in Primary School – University of Readin

Cost: Free, £42 for a certificate

This course is a general course for anyone already working, or aspiring to work, in primary education.

It examines how behavior, environment, communication and language impact how children learn.

The course takes four weeks, with three hours of study a week, although it can be completed on a flexible basis in your own time.

For £42 you can also acquire a certificate, and will retain access to course materials for as long as they are on FutureLearn.

Visit Supporting Successful Learning in Primary School – University of Readin

9. Supporting Successful Learning in Secondary School – University of Reading

Cost: Free, £42 for a certificate

This course aims to deepen your understanding of how individuals learn, so you can offer better support to young adults in the classroom.

The course also invites secondary teachers to reflect on their own values and biases to improve their practice and offer young people the best support possible for learning in the classroom.

As with all FutureLearn courses, an accredited certificate from the University of Reading costs £42 or comes with an annual subscription to FutureLearn.

Visit Supporting Successful Learning in Secondary School – University of Reading

10. Teaching Black British History: A Teacher Training Guide – The Black Curriculum

Cost: Free, £42 for a certificate

Teaching Black British History is a unique course offered by The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise founded in 2019 to support teachers and students addressing inequality in their teaching practices.

The course is not just for history teachers, but for any teacher looking to create an inclusive, active learning environment that reflects the children they work with.

The course covers cross-curricular, arts-based strategies to create new curriculum content, as well as reexamining the narratives of black British history and retelling them with accuracy.

Visit Teaching Black British History: A Teacher Training Guide – The Black Curriculum

Final Thoughts

Online courses are a fantastic way to fast-track your career progress as a teacher, and with recent developments in teaching, such as blended learning and a huge push toward developing an inclusive curriculum, online courses offer more up-to-date content and a way to address specific skills gaps.

Most schools lack the know-how when it comes to online learning and employing technology in the classroom.

As a teacher with these skills, you can guarantee yourself rapid career progression by taking an online teaching course.

Taking the initiative to learn independently in your own time shows dedication and commitment to your teaching practice.

Even if you don’t pay for the certificate at the end of the course, taking an online teaching course will equip you with skills that you can employ straight away in your classroom, and give you a new way to communicate your interests and motivations in job interviews.


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